Significance Of Food Items In August Strindberg’s Miss Julie And Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House

1559 words - 6 pages

Title: Significance of food items in August Strindberg's Miss Julie and Henrik Ibsen's A Doll's House.The relative importance of the theme of food varies in the different spheres of literature. In nineteenth and twentieth century literature the culinary habits of the characters generally emphasised on their social standing and racial identities, as is the case with Toni Morrison's novel, where "Love, thick and dark as Alaga syrup, eased up into that cracked window.". Food as a primal desire also suggested greed and an insatiable appetite when demanded in excess, as is the case with Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist, where he is reprimanded for asking for more gruel. Food imagery plays an equally prominent role in drama performed in the Victorian and modern age, the periods during which naturalism was on the rise and suitably manifested itself through eating and drinking activities onstage. Additionally, Charles G. Whiting in an essay on Sam Shepard's plays observes that food and alcoholic drinks occasionally introduced in plays like True West and Fool For Love not only aided the realistic element but also revealed certain character traits and events of the past. Food plays the role of an important literary device in the development of above such themes in the naturalistic dramas A Doll's House by Henrik Ibsen and Miss Julie by August Strindberg. "Was little Miss Sweet-Tooth naughty in town today?"(Ibsen, 13) The accusatory tone underlying Torvald Helmer's playful question to Nora can easily be detected by the audience at the beginning of the play. When Nora responds in the negative, the macaroon goes on to become an important literary symbol skilfully interwoven with several themes of the play. A merry atmosphere marks its beginning, which is conveyed through Nora's free, jovial movements around the house. Therefore the only discontinuity in this smooth emotional flow is caused by Helmer's entry, which is when Nora lies about eating the macaroons ("She puts the macaroons in her pocket and wipes her mouth.")(Ibsen,10). This forces us to reform our previous impression of their relationship, as it denotes the first sign of tension between the husband and wife. The importance that Nora offers to the concealment of the macaroons gives her action a much larger significance in the context of the plot. This strategy could be deemed as a foreshadowing of Nora's later actions involving forgery which have much graver consequences. The portrayal of Nora's childishness through this perpetual indulgence would be a rather superficial and conventional interpretation. A more essential quality that can be attributed to Nora as a result of this seemingly insignificant event is her carefully disguised rebellious attitude. While maintaining the fastidious front of a trophy wife, Nora exposes her alter ego to the audience by lying about the macaroons; that of her desire to express independence from Torvald's appearance-oriented lifestyle. This lifestyle reflects also in...

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